Aerial yoga classes at The Arena Club take traditional postures to another level

  • Laura Cavanaugh, of Street, stretches out as she is suspended while taking part in an aerial yoga class at The Arena Club in Bel Air, Md.
Laura Cavanaugh, of Street, stretches out as she is suspended… (Scott Serio, Baltimore…)
June 27, 2014|Krishana Davis | The Baltimore Sun

Even for the most avid yogi, doing a handstand or crow pose is inherently different when you are hanging more than a foot above the floor from a series of fabric slings.

As the yoga craze has taken off across the U.S., quirky, modified classes such as hot yoga — practicing in a room heated to 95 degrees — or even naked yoga have gained cult-like followings. But a small aerial yoga class at The Arena Club in Bel Air might have them all beat with muscle lengthening, strength training and just plain fun.

“It brings freedom back into the body,” aerial yoga instructor Kim DeAngelis says after a recent class.

Full-body draped fabric hammock slings, triangular pull-up bars and two longer fabric slings for legs are suspended from the ceiling for each yogi at The Arena Club.

In each class, a group of no more than six practices the traditional postures — dancer, crow, warrior one and two, lotus and triangle — but uses those slings and bars to suspend themselves above the ground and sink into a deeper stretch, DeAngelis says.

While the class is 80 percent grounded poses and 20 percent completely suspended, the hanging aerial equipment allows for added freedom, movement and flexibility, even for a complete newbie to the craft.

For DeAngelis, 41, of Fallston, strength training through aerial yoga adds an extra dimension to the workout.

“The support of the sling helps to accomplish poses you might not be able to do or go deeper into a pose,” DeAngelis says.

Laura Cavanaugh, 56, of Street started taking yoga classes in 2010 to combat high blood pressure. Cavanaugh just completed her first month-long session of aerial classes with DeAngelis.

“It’s good for toning muscles and keeping yourself flexible, especially as you get older,” Cavanaugh says. “At certain times, postures were more supportive in the sling,” such as the side crow, which was nearly impossible for her until she tried it in the suspended sling.

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